Category: Miscellaneous

Revisiting Mistborn

To start the year off, I decided to reread the Mistborn series, but as I headed into the first trilogy, I realized that I’ve never actually read the final version of them. I read them chapter by chapter as we workshopped them in writing group over several years. And in my head since then, they never changed, so there are things that Brandon edited before publication that I never realized got edited.

This has led to a very interesting experience. I think it’s the first set of books that I’ve read in print where I can point to different sections and know what sort of an impact writing group had on them. I don’t think I’m spoiling anything by mentioning these things (If I am, Brandon, I can take this post down), but here are a few examples of what I’m talking about:

  • I remember having a long debate in writing group about Vin killing the wolfhound. In the first draft, she just went up to the dog and pewter-punched it in the head, killing it instantly. I can’t remember if anyone other than me had an issue with it, but I was very less than pleased with the killing of a dog in-scene, by our heroine. We talked about what animals you could and couldn’t hurt. There were some who were squarely in the “anything but a cat is fair game” crowd, but I stuck to my guns. No killing dogs, if I’m supposed to like the character later on. This is ironic, of course, because I now kill people regularly in my novels. But note: I haven’t killed any dogs! In my head, Vin’s been a dog killer all this time, and now I realize she’s been falsely maligned. (Although I will also admit now that having OreSeur kill the dog instead also feels strange. I mean, Vin must have really held back to avoid killing the dog, and it feels out of character for her to hold back from doing it. So maybe Brandon was right, after all? Actually, what the scene really needed was a long flashback explaining how much Vin always loved dogs, and how a dog once saved her life on the streets, and so she’d made a solemn vow never to kill a pooch. That would have fixed it . . . )
  • Kelsier will always been pronounced with a French accent for me. It was a long running joke that he was outrageously French. I’m disappointed that it was never canonized, but I suppose it’s something I’ll have to learn to live with.
  • There’s a big twist in book 2. Brandon’s very keen on setting one thing up and then doing something unexpected, and that goes all the way back to his early books. In Well of Ascension, a big part of the book is devoted to “who is the spy?” Vin bounces back and forth between suspecting just about everyone. I remember when we read the first draft, as soon as it came to light that there was a spy, that I said in writing group who I thought it was and how it went down. It turns out I was 100% correct. I’m not sure if Brandon tweaked anything in the later drafts, because I still remembered who the spy was, and so couldn’t really tell if it was harder to guess.

It’s been a lot of fun to revisit the book, since there are many memories tied up in it. Back then, we were workshopping Cavern of Babel at the same time, and there was another long-running joke about what a Mistborn llama would be like. Some of the time we were at Brandon’s house, down in his basement. He had a huge bean bag that was a very popular spot to sit, and a parakeet who would make a guest appearance now and then. (No parrots). Then for a bit we met in my apartment, and we finished workshopping things over at Sally Taylor’s house.

I miss writing group. It wasn’t just about the writing. We had a lot of fun times, and I became close friends with everyone. Many times we’d head out to eat after a session. Mama Chu’s. Spaghetti Factory. Good times. Moving to Maine was wonderful in many ways, but that’s definitely one area it was much less than great.

Anyway, just thought I’d share. (Oh–and Happy Groundhog Day!)

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Like what you’ve read? Please consider supporting me on Patreon. Thanks to all my Patrons who support me! It only takes a minute or two, and then it’s automatic from there on out. I’ve posted the entirety of my book ICHABOD in installments, and I’m now putting up chapters from PAWN OF THE DEAD, another of my unreleased books. Where else are you going to get the undead and muppets all in the same YA package? Check it out.

If you’d rather not sign up for Patreon, you can also support the site by clicking this DON’T GO TO SLEEP Amazon link. It will take you to Amazon, where you can buy my books or anything else. During that visit, a portion of your purchase will go to me. It won’t cost you anything extra.

A Taste of Farmington: 2022 Edition

Farmington, Maine has a yearly festival in honor of Chester Greenwood, inventor of the ear muff and native Farmingtonian. There’s a parade (with everyone and everything wearing ear muffs, of course), contests, and general festivities. Back in the days of yore (pre-COVID times), there was also a “Taste of Farmington” activity, where you’d buy a ticket that would get you a sample of food at all participating restaurants in town. The ticket was $5, and the samples varied in size, but it ended up being a really good deal for $5, and a fun way to pass a few hours. That went away during COVID, but this year they brought it back. And who am I to pass up an opportunity like that? We went with the fam on Saturday, and I’m here to let you know what I thought of all the offerings, ranked from worst to best, of course.

N/A Java Joe’s, Tuck’s Ale House, and Main Street Nutrition: I don’t drink coffee and I don’t drink beer, and that’s what was offered in the first two spots, respectively. I also avoid sweet drinks of questionable origin, because I’m allergic to aspartame, and it’s not worth getting a migraine over. So I skipped the health drinks of Main Street Nutrition, as well. I can’t rate any of them, because I passed.

Dunkin’ Donuts: Come on, Dunkin’. A quarter of a donut? Your generosity astounds me. It was small, and . . . still a dunkin donut. Unimpressed.

Farmington House of Pizza: A small slice of a personal cheese pizza. Better than the donut morsel, but not very inspired.

Orange Cat Cafe: There was a chai here that I passed on (see above), but they also had small cupcakes, which were extremely tasty. Bump the size of them cupcakes up a few notches, and we’d have a serious contender.

The Homestead: Corn chowder and a piece of bruschetta. Tasty, but once again quite lacking in terms of portions. It just couldn’t compete with some of what the other were offering.

Wicked Good Candy: Your choice of three (out of around 6 or 7) types of candy. Not a ton of candy, but bonus points for variety of selection and offerings. MC thought this was awesome.

The Better Living Center: A piece of apple pie, home made. Very tasty, and not that small. Of course, not that big, either . . .

Mary Jane’s Slice of Heaven: Talk about variety and portions. They gave out three chicken wings (with your choice of three sauces), pork rinds, and a full slice of pizza. The wings were delicious, though the pork rinds were . . . pork rinds, and the pizza was . . . hot dog? Also, there was a long line. So . . . some strange selection, but great portions and selection.

The Roost: Pulled pork slider, homemade chips, chili, and they even offered water to drink. Everything was delicious, and there was quite a bit of it. Very impressive showing.

The Beaver Lodge at UMF: A small mango/strawberry smoothie, hot sandwich, homemade chips, and cup of clam chowder. Great portions and variety, and that smoothie was my favorite thing of the day. We have a winner!

And there you have it. If they offer this again next year, I heartily recommend it. I was stuffed by the end of it all, and we all enjoyed ourselves immensely.

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Like what you’ve read? Please consider supporting me on Patreon. Thanks to all my Patrons who support me! It only takes a minute or two, and then it’s automatic from there on out. I’ve posted the entirety of my book ICHABOD in installments, and I’m now putting up chapters from PAWN OF THE DEAD, another of my unreleased books. Where else are you going to get the undead and muppets all in the same YA package? Check it out.

If you’d rather not sign up for Patreon, you can also support the site by clicking this DON’T GO TO SLEEP Amazon link. It will take you to Amazon, where you can buy my books or anything else. During that visit, a portion of your purchase will go to me. It won’t cost you anything extra.

Don’t Go to Sleep Publication Day!

It’s August 2nd, and that means my next book, Don’t Go to Sleep, is finally out in the wild and ready for purchase. It’s always a long process from first writing a book to finally seeing it in print, and it’s a great feeling to have it done at last.

Here’s the review from Kirkus:

After a yearslong reprieve, the Axeman who haunts survivor Gianna’s nightmares stalks New Orleans’ Italian grocers again.

In this true-crime reimagining of the infamous Axeman of New Orleans with a supernatural spin, the hunter becomes hunted by one of his surviving victims. Seven years ago, Gianna and Enzo were brought together through shared trauma—both of their families survived brutal attacks by an ax-wielding intruder. After 17-year-old Gianna’s reoccurring nightmare of the attack changes in a threatening way, the Axeman strikes again. Believing her dreams are connected to the killer, Gianna and Enzo scour her nightmarish visions for clues, and the grisly crime scenes pile up. Aside from the Axeman’s terrorizing of New Orleans’s maligned Italian community, the city also simmers with the tension of the Great War abroad and the 1918 influenza pandemic; readers will feel déjà vu as they learn about the historical reception of face masks and lockdowns. The supernatural elements—Gianna and the Axeman’s connection, an Italian fortuneteller—offer eerie plot tendrils to follow (though some of these are dropped) and come into play in ways that heighten the dangers during big scenes. The graphic violence grounds the story and stakes. Gianna’s parents emigrated from Italy as young adults; Enzo is third-generation Italian American. Their romantic storyline is perfunctory but does not distract from the story’s tension. A delightfully dark historical cat-and-mouse game blending the psychic and psychological. (author’s note) (Historical supernatural thriller. 14-adult)

If you’d like to support the book (or me), here are some things you can do:

  • Buy the book. This kind of goes without saying, I’d guess, but buying the book is really important, especially in the first week of release. I’ve got a third book in with my publisher right now, and I’m hoping they agree to publish it. I expect they’ll be looking at the sales figures for this current book when they’re making that decision. Here’s a handy link to the book on Amazon.
  • Review the book. Whether it’s on Amazon, Goodreads, Barnes & Noble, or just on Facebook or Twitter, reviews really do help. (Good reviews help more, of course . . .) I think the first reviews can make a bigger impact than later reviews. They influence people when they’re thinking about buying the book.
  • Spread the word about the book. You don’t have to review it; you can just share this post and raise visibility.
  • Request the book from your library. I’m all for libraries (clearly). Checking the book out from your public library, or asking that they buy it so you can, is also wonderful, and free for you.

At any rate, thanks so much to all of you for your support. It’s really appreciated. Happy reading!

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Like what you’ve read? Please consider supporting me on Patreon. Thanks to all my Patrons who support me! It only takes a minute or two, and then it’s automatic from there on out. I’ve posted the entirety of my book ICHABOD in installments, and I’m now putting up chapters from PAWN OF THE DEAD, another of my unreleased books. Where else are you going to get the undead and muppets all in the same YA package? Check it out.

If you’d rather not sign up for Patreon, you can also support the site by clicking this DON’T GO TO SLEEP Amazon link. It will take you to Amazon, where you can buy my books or anything else. During that visit, a portion of your purchase will go to me. It won’t cost you anything extra.

Television Review: Severance Season 1

I know there are a lot of different streaming platforms out there. Too many, I’d say. And I also know that of all the platforms out there, Apple TV+ is bad on many different levels. Their app is infuriatingly awful. When I’m watching a show on the platform, unless I’m bingeing it, it’s inordinately difficult for me to find the next episode. They don’t have much in the way of a back catalog. Almost everything on there is stuff that they made specifically for the platform. And so for the first while, there just wasn’t that much.

But lately? It feels like all that Apple money is beginning to pay off.

You’ve got Ted Lasso and For All Mankind, both of which I’ve really enjoyed. You’ve got the Best Picture Oscar winner, CODA, and there are a slew of other shows that I’m rapidly adding to my watch list. The one that I just finished, Severance, had an absolutely riveting first season.

It’s very much in the line of other “mystery” shows like Lost or Westworld. Shows that aren’t mysteries in a classical sense, where you’re trying to figure out who the killer is, but rather in an “I have no idea what’s happening in this, and I want to figure it out” sort of vein. It takes place in a world where people can be “severed,” which basically splits them into two personalities, neither able to communicate with the other. When one half of the severed person is in control, the other has no clue what’s going on at all. When they switch, it’s as if no time has passed for them at all, and they have no recollection of anything that’s been happening while they were severed.

Naturally, people use this to avoid work.

Well, they specifically use it to sever themselves and then have their severed half do all the work while they only need to worry about living life. But for their severed half, all they know is work. It helps that they wake up with no real recollection of anything at all when they’re first severed. They don’t know who they are, where they are, or why they are. And so in many ways they’re like children, and treated as such by their supervisors. Still, the whole concept doesn’t go down well with some of them, as one might expect.

The show’s a slow burn, developing some of the lives of the characters both inside work and outside it. And (as one might expect, with a second season on the way) it definitely doesn’t conclude everything by the end of the season. Answers just lead to more questions, as is so often the case in shows in this genre. That makes it difficult to really evaluate the show, since much of the final verdict rests on “do the show makers actually have any idea of what the real answers to all these mysteries are, or were we just strung along for the ride?”

But as far as first seasons go, this is a doozy of one, and I really enjoyed it. (Directed by Ben Stiller, of Meet the Parents fame, no less.) I gave it a 9/10, and I’m eagerly awaiting the next season.

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Like what you’ve read? Please consider supporting me on Patreon. Thanks to all my Patrons who support me! It only takes a minute or two, and then it’s automatic from there on out. I’ve posted the entirety of my book ICHABOD in installments, and I’m now putting up chapters from PAWN OF THE DEAD, another of my unreleased books. Where else are you going to get the undead and muppets all in the same YA package? Check it out.

If you’d rather not sign up for Patreon, you can also support the site by clicking this PERFECT PLACE TO DIE Amazon link. It will take you to Amazon, where you can buy my books or anything else. During that visit, a portion of your purchase will go to me. It won’t cost you anything extra.

Drivers License Tests

After a fair number of COVID-related (and other) delays, Tomas is finally facing down the bane of many a teenager’s existence: the drivers license test. And as I’ve been getting him ready for the thing, I’ve (naturally) reflected back on what I can remember of when I got my license. While I might like to pretend it wasn’t that long ago, it was actually 27 years, so . . . yeah.

I got my test on my first try. We had to drive a fair distance to get to the testing spot. I don’t remember that much of the actual test. I knew friends of mine had failed on their first try (or two), and I knew I didn’t want to be one of them. I was confident about most things, except for parallel parking. I also remember they had me parallel park between two cones, as opposed to between actual cars.

Of course, these days I still have enough trouble parallel parking that I will actively look for anywhere else to park before I resort to giving those skills another test. I hate the pressure around parallel parking. Making people behind me on the street wait (and watch) as I fumble my way through it. It’s not that I can’t do it–but it can take two tries, and that’s enough to make me not want to do it if at all possible.

I get that one of the main reasons to test parallel parking is to show the tester that you’re able to put the car where you want it to go. I also get that (at least where I typically drive) there aren’t that many places around that require me to put that skill into practice, so it’s no big surprise that when I’m asked to actually do the thing, I still struggle to do it. If I parallel parked all the time, I’m sure I’d (eventually) get better at it.

In any case, I wondered if any of you had any interesting stories around drivers tests. Mine is so boring. (I came. I drove. I passed.) No accidents. No near misses. No nothing. But surely some people out there had something with more pizzaz happen. So . . . care to share?

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Like what you’ve read? Please consider supporting me on Patreon. Thanks to all my Patrons who support me! It only takes a minute or two, and then it’s automatic from there on out. I’ve posted the entirety of my book ICHABOD in installments, and I’m now putting up chapters from PAWN OF THE DEAD, another of my unreleased books. Where else are you going to get the undead and muppets all in the same YA package? Check it out.

If you’d rather not sign up for Patreon, you can also support the site by clicking this PERFECT PLACE TO DIE Amazon link. It will take you to Amazon, where you can buy my books or anything else. During that visit, a portion of your purchase will go to me. It won’t cost you anything extra.

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